What is Syncope?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2019
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Syncope is the proper medical terminology for a sudden loss of consciousness, or fainting. While the underlying causes for syncope vary, the phenomenon is relatively common. Chances are that every person will experience an episode of passing out with little or no warning at some point during his or her life.

The trigger for syncope can be something as simple as a sudden scare or a shock. It is not unusual for someone to faint upon hearing of some unexpected event, such as the death of a loved one. The blackout may also occur when the mind and body sense some type of impending danger or threat, and the individual is unable to escape the situation.

In terms of how a blackout affects the body, the condition is brought on by a change of the blood flow to the brain. There is often a substantial change in blood pressure that results in the brain not receiving a normal amount of blood into and out of the organ. This interruption in blood flow causes the individual to lose consciousness for a short period of time. When syncope is not due to some ongoing medical condition, it is usually easy to revive the individual within a short period of time.


Because fainting does not have to be tied to some underlying illness, the phenomenon may be experienced by just about anyone. Persons of all ages and genders may experience a fainting episode. Generally, the actual faint is preceded by a momentary stiffening of the body posture before the person loses consciousness. The eyes may appear to roll back in the head just as the eyelids close and the body becomes limp.

Syncope can also be a symptom of some type of medical condition, such as low blood pressure or even an extreme anxiety disorder. When an episode of fainting takes place, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. While syncope is often a one-time event triggered by some unexpected stimuli, a complete physical checkup will help to ensure the event was not a precursor to something more serious.


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Post 7

I have a sister. She is nine years old and she faints once a month. This problem has been going for a year.

Post 6

How is syncope treated?

Post 5

Syncope is just a symptom. Sometimes the symptom can be treated through environmental modifications, but the underlying cause of the symptom should be diagnosed by a physician; especially important related to something as vital as blood circulation.

Post 4

In more serious cases of syncope due to circulatory or heart problems, pacemakers are implanted for regulation of the heartbeat. Sometimes, even internal defibrillators are used and they actually correct an abnormal heart rhythm. Both of those are extreme cases and only for certain medical conditions.

Post 3

@carrotisland: You can also elevate the head of your bed. I placed risers under the legs of the head of my bed to elevate it. My doctor also told me to use extra precautions when sitting down and standing up.

Post 2

@carrotisland: Treating syncope can be complicated since there are so many different things, or nothing at all, that causes it. However, there are things that your doctor might recommend.

Sometimes, syncopal episodes are caused by circulatory problems. In that case, wearing compression stockings can help to improve your circulation.

Also, you may need to make some dietary adjustments such as eating small, frequent meals and avoiding caffeine or alcohol.

Post 1

How is syncope treated, or is there a treatment?

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